Thursday, April 30, 2009

Things we gained in the fire

we must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.
-Joseph Campbell

A soft afternoon. Babou is taking her nap and I am at my desk overlooking the backyard, taking in the view, all the plants finally in their right places, all in different stages of grown-up-ness, all looking pretty happy to be where they are...

Yesterday I finished planting the vegetable garden. Most of the day was spent digging and planting and marking and resulted in a garden that will surely satisfy us this summer. All told, we have eight heirloom tomatoes underplanted with marigolds, four Italian eggplant, four peppers (hot and sweet), four summer squash, pole beans and snap peas entwined in Babou's teepee, and a wide variety of various greens and herbs.

All the vegetables I planted this year were from my brother-in-law and his family who are starting an organic, heirloom plant company with the majority of the seeds being biodynamic.

I am so happy for my brother-in law and his family to be starting this company. This past year has been a very tough one for them; a changing one for them. Last summer their home was devastated by the fires that raged across California.

It was amazing to see the progression of their lives since they essentially lost everything that they had had. Both my brother and sister-in-law believe in, and live, a very alternative lifestyle. They are committed to living off of the land and growing their family as a joint venture. Over the holidays I had asked my sister-in-law what direction they were going to go in, and she had confided that they were really trying to just digest what had happened and wait to see what direction life wanted them to take.

I was very impressed with the openness and faith in life she demonstrated so naturally, something that would be very difficult for me. Given the same scenario, I would have been trying to regain control of my direction, instead of stepping back and waiting for life to point the way.

Life did point the way for them and has really taken them in a new, positive direction seemingly effortlessly. Everything seems to be falling in place perfectly, moving them along under its own momentum. It is truly inspiring to see, and really makes me reflect on the concept of faith and of effortless action.

To remember to trust life, and to let go.

I have such a hard time reconciling letting go and moving ahead. Their story is such a lesson in faith, in life, and in what is gained by being lost.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I Remember (an attempt at a poem)

I remember knowing that it had begun
At the same moment
That I knew that it would end.
Memorizing your profile as you slept
Knowing we would not last,
Knowing we were not meant to last.
You were my closest, and yet I held you far
Knowing time knew too much.
We were not meant to be but for a time
You said that you would miss me.
I remember I will never forget you
Suspended in our first, starlit kiss.

Monday, April 27, 2009

This is why...

This is love: To fly toward a secret sky, to cause a hundred veils to fall each moment. First, let go to the end, to take a step without feet.

Late last night, as we were driving home from our weekend helping my Old Man's brother and his family move, the Elton John song, "Rocket Man," came on the radio. I turned it up, knowing both of us loved the song.

Old Man was holding my hand. Babou and the dog were sleeping peacefully to the hum of the car and the music. Old Man squeezed my hand as Elton John sang the lyrics about missing his wife.

I turned to smile at him and saw the tears rolling down his face. He looked at me, wiping them away and answered the concern in my eyes. He said, "it's just that this song always reminds me of you when I'm on a job, it makes me miss you so much."

He left for his job today, and will be gone for about a month, maybe two.

I think I am even more in love with him today as I was the eleven long years ago when we first fell in love. I am thankful every day that I have this kind of love, that I have this kind of man; my kind of man, my diver man.

Rocket Man

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A different day

The goal of life is to live in agreement with nature.
-Zeno (335-264 BC) from Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers

The weather has turned, and turned fiercely. Yesterday it was in the nineties, and the heat left me blank and in the moment. I have been overly busy lately, and yesterday was a brief respite from the busy-ness. I had a day, somewhat, to myself.

I got to go out to lunch with one of my favorite friends, an artist and graphic designer, who is that beautiful combination of confidante, mentor, and friend. We were planning the menu for her annual Open Studios party, which I am catering again this year. I came up with a list of ideas and we decided on a really delicious menu--the party should be fun, it always is--in the garden, surrounded by roses and art!

Here is the menu we decided on...

Cinnamon and Coriander encrusted pork tenderloin in a pomegranate balsamic sauce

Curried couscous salad with sundried cranberries, green onions, and toasted almonds

Fresh arugula and corn salad with roasted red peppers in a balsamic vinaigrette

Roasted vegetable focaccia sandwiches with smoked gouda cheese and cilantro pesto.

Thinly sliced sweet cantaloupe served with a trio of prosciutto

I will make everything except the arugula salad and sliced melon the day before for ease the day of the party. I need to do as much ahead as I can because it is a challenge with Babou and the Old Man may be back working in southern California by then...

I spent the afternoon trying to keep cool in the backyard. Naked sprinkler jumping was Babou's happiest way of keeping cool!

That evening, I met up with my over-the-fence runner neighbor, to practice the Dipsea Trail. Although I missed the application, I am still training with her and plan on doing the whole trail in a practice run. I realize I am not much of a competitor, but the trail is truly magical and I want to make it the whole way, every year, as sort of a spring ritual. As I made my way along the trail I realized, again, how important nature is to my mental and physical health. How being a part of the terrain changes you, reminds you of your place, and is as much about rejuvenating your spirit as it is about training your body.

I came home spent, renewed, and happily thoughtless. The heat and trail had cleared a space in my overly busy brain for a little peace to reside.

Monday, April 20, 2009

A favorite poem and views from my garden

Now I become myself

Now I become myself. It's taken
Time, many years and places;
I have been dissolved and shaken,
Worn other people's faces,
Run madly, as if Time were there,
Terribly old, crying a warning,
"Hurry, you will be dead before--"
(What? Before you reach the morning?
Or the end of the poem is clear?
Or love safe in the walled city?)
Now to stand still, to be here,
Feel my own weight and density!
The black shadow on the paper
Is my hand; the shadow of a word
As thought shapes the shaper
Falls heavy on the page, is heard.
All fuses now, falls into place
From wish to action, word to silence,
My work, my love, my time, my face
Gathered into one intense
Gesture of growing like a plant.
As slowly as the ripening fruit
Fertile, detached, and always spent,
Falls but does not exhaust the root,
So all the poem is, can give,
Grows in me to become the song,
Made so and rooted by love.
Now there is time and Time is young.
O, in this single hour I live
All of myself and do not move.
I, the pursued, who madly ran,
Stand still, stand still, and stop the sun!

-May Sarton

Friday, April 17, 2009

Catching up




-Winnie the Pooh

Lately I have been really busy and have been having a hard time getting to my writing. And I miss it. So I decided this morning would be different and that I would blog before the day sweeps me away. I have been getting swept a lot lately!

So here I am, armed with a steaming cup of coffee, which is doing a considerable amount to buoy me through my day. From my desk window, I can see the sun beginning to warm the mountains and hills with its light; closer, I can see my garden and my new ocean and river rock border. I collect rocks, always have, and have managed to collect enough to border my flower beds and build a little cairn by the plum tree. It makes me inexplicably happy.

So where to start? I suppose where I left off would be appropriate! After the Amazing Homecoming, we got right back in the swing of things and had friends over the next night, amidst all the unpacking, which really never got accomplished because we left again the next day!

The next day was my birthday, and the Old Man flew in from southern California for the event. I picked him up at the airport and we loaded the car and headed to the foothills. The dear Mother-In-Law was left with our young charge and we snuck off to the very beautiful Sutter Creek Inn and had the most wonderful alone evening and night. Our room had a fireplace, clawfoot tub, sofa and chaise. The decor was a hodgepodge, but it perfectly suited us.

We played tourist the next morning and then had lunch at the Imperial Inn in Amador city, it was so romantic. They sat us alone out in the back garden. It was one of those soft and warm spring days. They made home squeezed meyer lemon lemonade, which was divine, and had a good selection of local wines. I had a glass of a 2007 Sobon "Old Vines" Zinfandel which smelled HUGE but was surprisingly balanced. We shared an appetizer of various salami's, greens, and olives. I felt like I had been transported to Europe and felt, very much, that I had gotten away!

The next week brought a lovely visit from Practical Sis and her entourage: Husband, boys, and dog. We had a great time, although the weather turned and it was a bit drippy and muddy. The children had much fun in the mud, as you can imagine! We had a picnic and hike by the lake one day and it it cleared enough to BBQ another. Really nice to see Practical Sis but it made me really miss her when she left.

The weekend brought a dinner with my beloved T at her house. She is an accomplished cook and made a most satisfying dinner; salmon with a warm balsamic herb sauce, fingerling potatoes, I made a salad, and delicious warmed bread and butter. I hadn't seen her place in almost a year, since she had moved in, and she has done much to make her place so inviting. T has a way of making her spaces so cozy, relaxing, and elegant in an unpretentious and intimate way.

The next day, we had plans to spend Easter with the MIL, to just go up and back the same day (about 3 hour drive both ways) and I was to bring a dessert. I planned on making Mary Alice's coconut cake and so, after I got back from T's dinner and gotten Babou in bed, I set about making the cake. I have the unfortunate trait of always waiting until the last minute to do things. I got all the ingredients together, floured the pans, arranged my mixing bowls and went to put together the egg beaters. It was then that I realized that they had no beaters. Hmmm. I had a vague recollection of Babou playing in the pan drawer and running back and forth into her little room. I checked the room and found one beater cleverly placed amongst her stuffed animals. I continued my search for the second beater. I looked everywhere. All through her clothes, in pots, I took apart my pan drawer, I looked in all the weird places she hides things, like the shower. By this time it was almost 11pm and I was tired so I took it as a sign of sorts, turned off the oven and put away the bowls and ingredients. I decided I would get up early and make shortcake and just assemble strawberry shortcake at MIL's house, maybe not the wow factor of the coconut cake but very tasty no less. SO I get up in the morning and make the shortcake. I fill two cookie sheets of shortcake and open the oven to bake them. Guess what's in the oven? Yep, the other egg beater!

Which leads me to this week. It has been a calm one, so far. I got sick and lost my voice a little bit. I got it back but sound a little Stevie Nicks-ey! I can't say I don't like it! The Old Man got back from his job for a little break, we have been enjoying being all together, cooking and working in the garden, tying up lose ends from all of our galavanting all over the place; mail, laundry, errands, shopping, etc. Settling back in. This weekend some of my oldest girlfriends are coming to celebrate our collective, spring birthdays. And I am cohosting my friend D's baby shower. I am making the cake. Any guesses?

Monday, April 6, 2009


No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.
-Lin Yutang

I arrived home, finally, Thursday afternoon. Driving into town, I was amazed at how much had changed in just four weeks, how spring gathers its March momentum to explode into spring. How the trees, bare when I had left, were now like green firecrackers bursting into bloom. Everything soft with life after the bareness of winter.

I pulled into my driveway and grabbed Babou to run up the stairs, leaving my unpacking for later. Inside, I noticed a bouquet of pink tulips on the dining room table! I continued on into the kitchen and saw a beautiful lunch and bottle of wine awaiting me. Hmmm...I continued out to the back yard where I found my friend, the bearer of all these sweet homecomings, having just finished weed whacking the back lawn which must have previously been in excess of three feet tall! The yard was beautiful; flowers blooming, now neatly mowed green, green grass, fig and plum trees filled with leaves, everything lush and happy.

I couldn't believe how lucky I was to get such a homecoming! I am stilled bowled over by it and am so happy to be home, so happy to see the old with new eyes. I have always loved traveling not only because I love seeing new things and ways people live, but because it really puts your own life in perspective. It is the perfect anecdote to ennui of all kinds.

Friday, April 3, 2009

A father's wisdom

This week I stayed for a couple of days at mom and dad's. It is a perfect midway point for traveling from southern California to northern California. And it is an appreciated break for the road weary.

I spent all of yesterday morning packing and getting ready to leave on the final leg of my journey north. Dad was hanging out and talking to me a I packed. Dad's a talker, and has always been. He is less into conversation and more into lectures, diatribes, that sort of thing. I think it is for this reason that I cannot focus on someone talking at me for any longer than perhaps two minutes. Any longer than the two minutes and I start to drift off as I learned to years ago, into my own thoughts. An early defense mechanism. I learned to say "hmmm," and "really?" at appropriate intervals and get away with it most of the time. I was doing this while he talked at considerable length on a variety of topics.

But then it got interesting. For those of you who are skittish, stop reading here.

He started on the topic of Bucharest. He wanted to know what I had thought of it while I was there a few years ago. Then he figured we should look it up in the dictionary (we look everything up in the dictionary--it is, I am pretty sure, my parents favorite book and what googling is to us now). He got waylayed by the definition of Buddhism instead. He read me that one. Then he started in on religion.

"You know, science and religion, really a lot of contentious sh@#, I figured it out a long time ago by realizing it was all bullsh*%. When Nanny (his aunt that took over his care after his mother passed when he was five) had her Unity meetings, she would just have every sit and clear the sh#$ out of their heads. You'd sit there with your palms up and release your toxic thoughts through one hand and receive the wisdom through the other. Just to empty yourself was what was important. There were no words for what filled you, you just got smarter. And if you didn't get the toxic sh#$ out it would create an imbalance in your system. That doctor Jarvis and the herbalists would have you change your acid balance to fix it but I would just use tums. It clears it out.

Anyway, Nanny was really helpful for people to just sit and be quiet and this one lady was really into it and started asking some pretty serious questions about the meaning of what she was understanding which you really can't think about because it can't be put into words. Yes, she was like that for awhile until she met this 21 year old Indian man with a really big dick and she stopped worrying about it so that was pretty good."

Yeah, that sounds about right. I was laughing all the way home. I am actually still laughing. Totally my dad. That story perfectly expresses my father. He is a trickster of sorts.

Lucky I found my Indian...(old man is part Navajo)...!